Olympique Marseille Hit Rock Bottom in the 2015 – 2016 Ligue 1
Being an Olympique Marseille fan hasn’t exactly been easy over the past few years. From 2004 through to 2011, the football club was one of France’s finest, notching top-five finish after top-five finish. In 2010, they won the Ligue 1 title; in both 2009 and 2011, they finished as the runners-up. Since then, though, Olympique Marseille have been inconsistent, to say the least. In 2011 – 2012, they dropped to 10th place on the Ligue 1 table; in 2012 – 2013, they jumped back up to second place; and in 2013 – 2014, they fell out of the top five once again. And now it seems that in 2015 – 2015 Olympique Marseille hit rock bottom.
Last season, it looked as if the Olympians might win another title. For 14 weeks in the middle of the season, they were in first place in the league in terms of point totals. But when they only won eight games in the second half of the season, Marseille fell from first place to fourth.
A Rough Start
That fall has carried over into the 2015 – 2016 Ligue 1 campaign, it seems. 10 games into the new season, Olympique Marseille are languishing in the lower half of the Ligue 1 table. They’re stuck back in 16th place, just a few slots—and a few losses—shy of the relegation danger zone.
Indeed, of their first 10 games, the Olympians have only two. They hammered Troyes, a team recently promoted from Ligue 2, in an August 23rd home fixture. Ironically, the match and its 6-0 score is still the biggest win of the 2015 – 2016 Ligue 1 season. Marseille’s only other win, a 4-1 against Bastia, came two weeks later.
Those high-scoring wins illustrate the contradictory nature of Marseille’s season so far. On one hand, they’ve shown that they can formulate dangerous attacks and win games. Their best attacker, Michy Batshuayi, is tied with Nice’s Hatem Ben Arfa as Ligue 1’s leading goalscorer. Both
players have tallied seven goals—more than Paris Saint Germain celebrities like Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Batshuayi only scored nine goals all season last year, which means that, individually, he’s having a great soccer season.
On the other hand, Marseille have shown some big weaknesses this season. Of their first 10 games, they’ve lost half of them. And while one of those losses came against PSG, most of them were conceded to teams that the Olympians outranked by a significant margin last season. For instance, they’ve suffered defeats against Guingamp, Caen, and Reims this year—teams that finished the 2014 – 2015 season in 10th, 13th, and 15th place, respectively. On September 27th, they lost at home to Angers, another recent Ligue 2 promotion.
Add a trio of draws, and Olympique Marseille have only taken nine points from 10 games. In comparison, Paris Saint Germain are leading Ligue 1 with a current tally of 26 points—just shy of three times what the Olympians have.
Finding the Root Problem
So what’s the problem at Olympique Marseille? Part of the issue is rebuilding. Last season—and the two seasons before that—the Olympians were led by Andre-Pierre Gignac. Gignac, a long-time star of the Ligue 1, turned 29 last December, but still managed to tally 21 goals in league play and 23 overall. That tally was only two goals below his career high of 25 goals in a season, which he did at Toulouse back in 2008 – 2009.
Bottom line, Gignac was the heart of the Olympians, and when he left at the end of the season to play for Mexican football club Tigres UANL, Marseille were left somewhat rudderless. The problem was compounded by the late resignation of head coach Marcelo Bielsa, who left Marseille
following the football club’s August 8th season opener, citing “conflicts with management.”
Olympique quickly found Bielsa’s replacement, in the form of Olympiacos manager Michel. However, Michel has struggled to find his groove at Marseille—particularly with ineffective summer signings like Remy Cabella. If he doesn’t turn things around soon, he might not make it to three months in charge at the soccer club.
Join us on social media to discuss the team’s best course of action moving forward. Should they find a new manager? Drop dead weight players like Cabella from the starting lineup? Plan for an active mid-season transfer window? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr, as well as other popular social networks.